Product trendspotting: Food for blood sugar management20 Apr 2023
Nestlé USA has launched a new line of ready meals for people managing their blood sugar levels, building on similar launches in Malaysia and China – and products that help control blood sugar levels could be the next big trend, says Mintel.
Today, over 537 million adults are living with diabetes – equivalent to one in 10 – and this number is predicted to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation. More than three out of four adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries, with Asia the most affected region.
As rates of type 2 diabetes rise around the world, products that support aspects of health linked to type-2 diabetes – such as controlling blood sugar levels – could become more sought after, according to market research company Mintel.
Pre-diabetes – a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes – can be managed and even reversed by strictly following a healthy, balanced diet that does not cause blood sugar spikes.
Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine range is backed by American Diabetes Association
Nestlé’s latest launch taps into this growing global health demand. Launched under its Lean Cuisine brand, the Balance Bowls range contains four stock-keeping units (SKUs): Tex-Mex Rice and Black Beans; Lemon Garlic Shrimp Stir-Fry; Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Pasta; and Creamy Pasta Primavera.
Made with ingredients such as wholegrain pasta and brown rice, the meals are designed to make it easy for people managing blood sugar levels to enjoy a nutritionally balanced diet with products that are convenient and easy to prepare.
They also meet the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Better Choices for Life Program nutrition guidelines for frozen meals. Each bowl is a source of protein and fibre and the packaging bears the ADA Better Choices for Life logo on the front, making it easier for shoppers to find. The products will be available throughout the US in select retailers.
"Our culinary team worked alongside nutritionists and members of the ADA to ensure that our meals are crafted with filling flavours and well-balanced ingredients that help consumers achieve their personal nutritional goals," said Kat Amrhein, Lean Cuisine brand manager. "Each frozen entrée [main meal] contains 400 calories or less, a serving of vegetables, and zero grams of added sugar."
Nestlé launches blood-sugar management products in Malaysia & China
Jennifer Paine, head of Nestlé's R&D unit for food in Ohio said the company used a test and learn approach to develop the meals through its US R+D Accelerator programme. However, this is not the first time the Swiss food giant has developed packaged food products tailored to the nutritional needs of people monitoring their blood sugar levels.
In Malaysia, Nestlé launched Nutren GlucoSmart, a novel food supplement containing Reducose, a trademarked mulberry leaf extract that is clinically proven to lower blood glucose spikes. This launch was paired with Nutren GlucoSmart, a digital platform that gives users tailored recommendations for prediabetes-friendly meal plans.
Under its YiYang brand in China, Nestlé launched TangLv, a powdered milk beverage also containing Reducose to support healthy ageing while in India, Nestlé uses the website of its Maggi brand to share “diabetic-friendly recipes” with the public. The recipes are based on MyMenu IQ, a nutritional scoring tool developed by Maggi that ranks the nutritional balance of meals.
Ingredient to watch: Chromium for blood sugar control
In the context of growing interest in managing blood glucose levels, chromium could be an ingredient to watch, predicts Mintel.
An essential trace mineral with EU-approved health claims for 'contributing to the normal maintenance of macronutrient metabolism', and for 'contributing to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels', analysts at Mintel predict chromium could grow in popularity as people look to functional food and drink products to manage their weight and blood sugar levels.
“Chromium's link to blood glucose control and energy metabolism makes it a very relevant nutrient at present, due to rising global rates of type-2 diabetes and obesity,” wrote Emma Schofield, associate director of global food science at Mintel.
“Chromium, in combination with satiating ingredients like fibre, holds potential to grow in supplements and functional food and drink products that help consumers to keep their weight loss journey on track.”
Although chromium is currently listed as an ingredient in less than 1% of global food, drink and supplement launches, Mintel expects this to increase.
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